When you are getting started with playing the guitar, it’s incredible to find the sheer number of songs that you can learn to play right from the start. Since many songs utilize only 2 or 3 major chords, it is easy to pick up these songs when playing. A beginner guitarist should start with easy songs such as these.
You’ll want to always continue learning more on the guitar as you go because with practice you will get better and better, but it’s good to have a starting point on finding some easy guitar songs when you begin your journey in learning. Whether it’s our NYC-based guitar lessons or online guitar lessons, most instructors can only show you so much, and you need to be willing to train yourself outside of the lessons as well.
Please take note when you begin, you’re not going to be good. It’s not easy to turn into Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones without lots of time and practice. But you shouldn’t give up! Make those mistakes, learn from them and figure out how to make them sound better. It will take some time so be patient.
Guitar tabs are easy-to-read, chord pictures that show you where your fingers could go.
Taking a look at three of the same chords you will see many times throughout since they are used in many songs, let’s break down what it looks like on a chord chart:
The numbers correspond with your fingers, showing you where they go on the fret and on what strings. So looking at a chord, we’ll look at C Major, your index finger is 1, your middle finger is 2 and your ring finger is 3.
The “X” indicates that you DO NOT play that string. The “O” indicates that you play the strong ‘open’, or without a finger on it. The number “1” on the upper left side indicates it is the first fret on your guitar.
BONUS: E Minor Chord
There are many songs you can start with that will help you learn how to switch between chords with more ease as you learn to play. You can use either an acoustic or an electric guitar to suit your desired sound. It is recommended that you begin on an acoustic guitar first.
Let’s take a look at 8 simple guitar songs that every beginner should learn:
1. “I Wanna Be There” by Blessed Union of Souls
This song has just three simple and major chords: G, C, and D. These are probably the easiest chords to learn first on the guitar, and once you have them, you can already learn how to strum a song.
The chord progression goes like this: G | C | D | G, and once you can switch to each without any problems, you’ve got yourself this song. It’s a very simple and easy song to begin with, and who doesn’t like a love song?
2. “What’s Up” by Four Non-Blondes
This song has a few more chords than three, utilizing the chords E, Am, G, D, and B, however, these are all chords that can be easily picked up on the guitar. This is also one of those songs that everyone knows, so it’ll be a big hit at parties and get-togethers.
3. “Love Me Do” by The Beatles
When you play this great song, it only takes TWO initial chords for the chorus: G major and C major, until you get to the bridge part of the song that goes, “Someone to love…” where you add in a D major chord. A very simple song with just the two chords to start, making it very easy to play.
Note that every song is going to have its own strumming pattern, and they will differ based on the song you choose. It helps if you are familiar with the song and its rhythm because this will help with your strumming.
4. “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
Everyone’s favorite at weddings and parties, this song is easily learned with those same three guitar chords: G major, C major, and D major, adding in an E Minor chord in the chorus at the part where you get to the first “My brown-eyed girl”. Do you see how many songs can be created using the same three chords? The pattern for this song goes G | C | G | D Then C | D | G | Em.
Again, the strum pattern that you use is what will solidify you as a true guitarist. The rhythm is just as important as learning how to play the chords correctly.
5. “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley
We all like to know that “every little thing is gonna be alright.” This is a well-known tune and if you love reggae this is a simple song on the guitar. It only uses three major chords: A, D, and E.
Your strumming with this song should be intentional and have that “island” feel to it, and your D chord is an open chord, meaning that one string is unfretted. This can be a fun jamming song that is continuous.
6. “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus
If you’re into the country scene, you can pick up this little tune on the guitar with some simple strums of the chords C and G. And that’s it, just 2 chords! Talk about easy. Because both the chorus and the verses of this song follow the same pattern, this is an excellent beginner song.
7. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Maybe you’re more into the old rock country songs, such as “Sweet Home Alabama.” This is a song easily learned on the guitar too, due to those same three easy chords for many songs throughout this list, C, D, and G.
Since the chords are the same you might also be able to throw in the song “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevin – remember the Kid Rock version that incorporated both? Two songs in one!
8. “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
This is a fun, bluesy type song that has a very simple chord progression. This uses the chords D, A, G in the progression that goes D | A | G | D and then adds a G major chord in the beginning when you get to the part in the chorus of “Don’t go around tonight…”
All of these songs are good for beginners, really the only challenging song being “What’s Up” since it throws a minor chord within the progression.
Once you have established learning how to change between chords with ease, you can start adding in things like a capo and/or a barre chord to move up and down different keys, or possibly riffs if you want to advance to working on your fingerpicking ability.
Fingering becomes more of a challenge, but you want to be sure you’re confident about your strumming before tackling that next step.
There are also many other popular songs out there that utilize simple chords you can learn. Take a look at some songs by Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley or John Denver. Practicing is also the most important tool because the more time you can spend playing, the better you’ll be.
So, bring your guitar the next time you go camping and work on some chords by the campfire, or take it with you on your next vacation so that you can spend as much time possible working on your craft. Play along with recordings, stopping to repeat trouble spots until you can really get them down. Go ahead and start playing!